On Lightness in World Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)
Despite the apparent ubiquity of light literature, and despite the greater cultural prestige it has been afforded in recent decades, very little has been written on the adjective that actually defines this category. What, precisely, does it signify, and what are some of the key strategies by which the effect of lightness is achieved within literary discourse? In this original and engaging study, Bede Scott explores the aesthetic quality of lightness as demonstrated by a diverse range of narratives – spanning four different centuries and five different countries. In each case, he focuses on a specific 'type' of lightness, whether it be the refined triviality of Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book, the ludic tendencies of Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis' Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, or the 'exhilarating and primitive vitality' of Voltaire's Candide. By bringing together such disparate sources, Scott makes a strong case for the universality of this particular aesthetic value, while also subjecting its underlying structural features to close critical scrutiny.
'Scott's selection of writers, slender but representative, makes it clear that the convention of "lightness" has global authority. . . . Recommended.' (Choice)